The Ramifications of Detroit’s Art Appraisal

The Detroit Institute of Arts

The Detroit Free Press has a story about the appraisal of the Detroit Institute of Arts holdings that raises some chilling and provocative thoughts. Few museums have the historical anomaly that makes the DIA a role in Detroit’s bankruptcy. But the danger of the appraisal now taking place—Christie’s will start with 300 works on view and then move to storage to value works thought to be worth more than $50k and finally on to the rest of what is estimated to be 3,500 works—is that it will reveal a much greater value than the $2.5bn bandied about recently.

How high could the value go? One art advisor suggests into the 11 figures. And the consequences are that other institutions will be forced to reckon with the notional value of their holdings:

“This is like the weighing of souls,” said Maxwell Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “This is biblical stuff, not the approximations that insurance companies look for. It’s extremely problematic for all museums, because it alters the public’s perception of artworks from being ciphers of public heritage of transcendent value, to objects for sale to pay other people’s debts.”

Christie’s appraisal will reveal value of Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection (Detroit Free Press)